FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS NOTES
Newsletter of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition
Next Meeting: January 17, 2007
The next meeting of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition is Wednesday, January 17th at 7 p.m. It takes place in Room 411, Burgess Hall on the UTEP campus. Burgess Hall is at the intersection of Sun Bowl Drive and University Ave. on the west side of the campus. Please be prompt. The building entrance locks automatically in the evenings. If you arrive late and no one is at the door, call 861-4361 and someone will come to let you in. For more information contact Scott Cutler (581-6071).
PREVIEW OF CASTNER RANGE PRESS RELEASE:
THOUSANDS SIGN CASTNER RANGE PRESERVATION LETTER
PETITIONS WILL BE PRESENTED TO
SILVESTRE REYES AT THE “FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS POPPIES CELEBRATION AT CASTNER RANGE”
Over 5,000 people have signed a letter to Representative Silvestre Reyes asking him to help protect Castner Range, the site of breathtaking poppy blooms on the east side of the Franklin Mountains. The letter and hundreds of pages of attached signatures will be presented to the congressman on Saturday, March 17th, at 2:30 PM on the grounds of the Museum of Archaeology, 4301 Transmountain Road, in the heart of Castner Range. The presentation will be the highlight of a free, outdoor family event that day, the “Franklin Mountains Poppies Celebration,” featuring dozens of educational exhibits, and wildlife demonstrations.
The letter states support for a resolution unanimously passed by El Paso City Council on March 14th, 2006, in favor of permanent preservation for the range. Signers ask Congressman Reyes “to work actively with Congress and the Department of the Army to achieve the preservation of all of Castner Range in its natural state for the benefit and enjoyment of all Americans forever.” Signatures were collected over the past nine months by members of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition (FMWC), a federation of local civic pride groups, outdoor recreation enthusiasts and wildlife preservation organizations.
FMWC acting president Scott Cutler stated, “The enthusiasm of the public for protecting Castner Range from development is inspirational. The thousands who signed the petition are from all walks of life and political persuasions. To El Pasoans, Castner Range is a special place.” The “Franklin Mountains Poppies Celebration” will kick off at 10 AM on March 17th with a full program of nature talks, wildlife demonstrations, educational exhibits and photography workshops. Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the poppies during this free event which will last until 3 PM. The celebration is organized by the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition (CDEC). CDEC President Rick LoBello noted, “This will be a festive day and a wonderful opportunity for us to help educate our community about both the wonders and threats to our Chihuahuan Desert.”
The above paragraphs are only the beginning of a fantastic press release concerning an event we have all been waiting for and working towards. The release includes a glorious photo of the poppies spreading across Castner Range and the text (which space limitations do not allow us to reproduce here) continues with information about Castner Range, FMWC and CDEC. We hope to see all FMWC members, families and friends at the Celebration.
Franklin Mountains State Park Update
By Danny Contreras, PRII, ADSO
Greetings, from the staff of The Franklin Mountains State Park. Visitation for December was down in comparison to this time last year. This was probably due to some very cold weather. The Franklins have seen snow flurries, some precipitation, and some very cold winds this month.
On December 20, 2006 interviews were held for the Park Ranger II/ ADSO position at the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park. In all four applicants were interviewed, and as of yet, there has been no word from Austin as to who was selected.
On December 18th, Jordan Construction Services was contracted by Texas Department of Transportation to repair the road in the Tom Mays Unit that was destroyed by the heavy rains we received this year. Repairs to the road were completed on December 19th.
Work Continues on the trails with the help from Volunteers and Volunteer Organizations.
On March 17, 2007 from 10:00am to 3:00pm The Franklin Mountains Poppy Celebration at Castner Range will be held at the El Paso Museum of Archeology. Any organizations interested in setting up a booth can contact myself, Danny Contreras Texas Parks and Wildlife at (915) 566-6441 or Diane Perez of the El Paso Water Utilities at (915) 594-5615. Either way come out and join us.
As always we would like to thank our wonderful staff of Volunteers at the Franklin Mountains State Park and the Franklin Mountain Wilderness Coalition for their continuous and added support.
*FRONTERA LAND ALLIANCE INVITATION*
Everyone is invited to The Frontera Land Alliance’s reception and annual meeting on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing in Sunland Park, NM (map and directions available at www.ardovinos.com/map.html). Casual reception with an hors d’oeuvres buffet and cash bar begin at 6 PM, with the meeting following at 7. This is a great opportunity to learn more about our local land trust from the Board of Directors and to enjoy Ardovino’s relaxed atmosphere and delicious food alongside friends and neighbors who share a commitment to El Paso’s natural environment and quality of life. Please come out and learn more about the land trust’s work over the past year.
City Plan Commission Endorses Open-Space Plan
At its Dec. 21 meeting, the El Paso City Plan Commission discussed the draft Open Space Plan for El Paso, expressed great enthusiasm for the plan, and recommended unanimously that City Council approve it. The draft plan is now undergoing some final revisions before it goes to City Council. It is expected to be introduced before Council soon, followed by formal discussion and action two weeks later. As always, we'll send out an e-mail alert when it is introduced.
For a look at the draft plan: http://www.elpasotexas.gov/_documents/Openspace.pdf
You can also get a hard copy at the Planning Division offices on the 5th floor of City Hall. For more information: Chuck Kooshian, Lead Planner, 915-541-4632.
At the Texas Legislature
The 80th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature opened Jan. 9. Legislators appear to be waking up to the fact that the state park system faces serious funding shortfalls, and measures to address those shortfalls should get serious consideration.
Locally, in an unprecedented development, state park issues are included among the City of El Paso's top state legislative priorities. Specific priorities adopted by City Council on Jan. 3 include:
Seek appropriate legislation and/or appropriation to allow the foothills of the Franklin Mountains currently designated as open space on the N.E. Master Plan to be incorporated into the Franklin Mountains State Park.
Seek appropriation for a visitor's center in the Franklin Mountains State Park to be located in the Northeast part of El Paso.
Oppose the transfer control of property such as the Magoffin Home from the State Park System to the Texas Historical Commission without an appropriate funding source to insure the continued maintenance and operation of the facility.
For all of the City's state legislative priorities: http://www.elpasotexas.gov/_documents/kzf05.pdf.
Annual dues for the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition are due in January each year. Even if you normally get our newsletter only via e-mail, in January you also get this hard copy, along with an annual-renewal form and return envelope. If you are a Coalition member, please use these materials to renew your membership. If you are not a member, now would be an excellent time to join. With your help, 2007 can be a banner year for the Franklin Mountains.
The Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition
Borderland Mountain Bike Association - - Celebration of Our Mountains - - Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife Rescue - - El Paso Archeological Society - - El Paso Cactus and Rock Club - - El Paso Native Plant Society - - El Paso Regional Group of the Sierra Club - - El Paso/Trans-Pecos Audubon Society - - El Paso Wilderness Preservation Committee - - El Paso Women’s Political Caucus - - Friends of the Franklins - - League of Women Voters of El Paso - - Mesilla Valley Audubon Society - - Mountain Park Community Association - - Photography Enthusiasts of El Paso - - Southern New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club
VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT http://iloveparks.com/fmwc/